It’s amazing, but this blog has actually ruined Louise’s social network. Lots of Louise’s friends are reading my blog, which is great. (Where were you 7 years ago when I first started?) But many of my Molly news posts are full of more information and personal thoughts than I’ve even shared with Louise at times. So whenever Louise speaks to someone on the phone, not only have they heard all the news, but sometimes they’re telling Louise additional things about her life. Louise still hasn’t read my blog since going into hospital, so it’s all pretty surreal to her.
Molly’s doing really well. At times she seems to smile, and sometimes even acknowledge that we exist. Not really, but almost. And she’s still not crying much, except when she’s doing a number twos. Very similar to her Daddy in fact.
We’re still pretty sleep deprived, as she’s still on 4th hourly feeds, but we’re dealing with it quite well, and are starting to get into a rhythm. The Olympics on in the background helps, but that just reminds me of how much a hate our free to air TV stations. Insert Channel 7 TiVo rant here.
So finally TiVo is about to be officially released in Australia. And the TV ad for it is attempting to pull the heart strings of any Australian watching the Olympics. Average Aussie householders walking down the street extolling the virtues of TiVo, with the tag line:
We’re Australian and we’re taking control. Join the revolution. TiVo. TV your way.
In case the advert isn’t clear enough, TiVo is being brought to Australia as a Channel 7 joint venture with the U.S. based TiVo company. TiVo of course is a U.S. product that’s been around for almost ten years now, and while it’s easy for people watching the ad to think that Channel 7 and TiVo care about us the viewers and just want to bring this great product into our lounge rooms, the truth is fact much much different.
Ten years of TiVo in the U.S., but not here. Could it be TiVo not wishing to enter the Australian market until now? Could it be some technical innovation that’s only now allowed Australian PAL televisions to work with TiVo? Or is that there’s never really been a market here? None of these in fact.
The only reason we’ve not had TiVo in Australia, is because the free to air broadcasters, especially channel 7 and channel 9, have been preventing TiVo from entering the market for almost ten years, because one of TiVo’s main features, is the ability to skip over ads in recorded programs. Ads of course are the televisions stations’ primary income, so the threat of TiVo to our local broadcasters was and still is, huge.
Yet TiVo went to market in the U.S., so how come it was prevented from doing so here? Well, Channels 7 and 9 found a nice arguably dodgey loophole in our copyright laws. Because their program schedules were devised by them, they apparently thought that they held the copyright to them. And as with most people who don’t understand what copyright is actually designed to do (protect an artist’s right to income), Channel 7 and 9 used their copyright over their program guides (or EPG, Electronic Program Guide) to prevent TiVo from using them.
And of course without a program guide, TiVo can’t be programmed to record anything, and would be dead in the water in the Australian market.
Third parties have in the past set up their own EPGs on web sites, by manually typing in program schedules as they’re published in the newspapers, or by screen scraping web sites which display limited program schedules, such as the television station web sites themselves, but 7 and 9 have shut each of them down as they appeared. In fact 9 are still in court with IceTV, who were selling an EPG with a web site which would act like a VCR for you.
TiVo have been in Australia unofficially for years though. A friend of mine has several, and has been using them successfully for about five years now. Local hackers reprogrammed the TiVo software many years ago, and several web sites have published EPGs for it at various times before being shut down. But it’s not like taking a box home and just plugging it in and it works.
Enter Foxtel’s new iQ box, which basically does the same thing as the TiVo, but only if you have Foxtel. Consolidated Media Holdings (CMH), a Packer company, owns 25% of Foxtel, so of course Channel 9’s EPG is available on the iQ, but Channel 7 and Channel 10 refused to provide theirs to Foxtel, or at least didn’t initially, I’m not sure of the situation now.
So in response, after ten years of aggressively preventing companies like TiVo from entering the Australian market, Channel 7 did a deal to bring them in as a Channel 7 branded product. To 7’s credit, they’ve left in the ad skipping, and it’s going to be a one off purchase for the TiVo itself, although there are rumours that you’ll have to subscribe to the EPG for a small fee. From devil to angel in a single business deal.
And so it is amusing in so many ways, the tag line used in the Channel 7 TiVo commercial. Yes we are Australian and are taking control, but only after Channel 7 had run out of ways to prevent us from doing so. You couldn’t really call it a revolution, and you couldn’t really call the last ten years TV our way. But TiVo is finally here, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a shame that Channel 7 is now considered the TiVo champion, when fact they were until very recently, it’s biggest opposition.